Dan Gertler Reviews: Angelina Jolie

Angelina Jolie, known for her movie roles as much as for her beauty, humanitarian activities, and her relationship with Brad Pitt, is one of my favorite Hollywood actresses. With such a blooming acting career (which also includes her earning the highest pay among Hollywood actresses) it is hard to believe she has only been with us since the 90s. I guess this alone points not only to her talent, but also to how well she fits the big screen and to the problems and questions presented on it in our time and age.

Born in June 1975 in Los Angeles, California, Jolie comes from a long chain of artists, including actors (among which is her father, Jon Voight), singer-songwriters, and filmmakers. From a very young age Jolie knew her future was heading towards the stage and screen. Her adolescence years, however, have been rough, to say the least. But maybe her own experiences of depression and being in a mental institution have given her the inspiration for her role as Lisa Rowe in “Girl, Interrupted” (1999), which won her an academy award for Best Supporting Actress, a Golden Globe Award, and a Screen Actors Guild Award. But Jolie’s first breakthrough was in 1997, when she played Cornelia, in “George Wallace”, which also won her a Golden Globe Award. From then on things went well for her, and she continued to star and receive critical acclaim for many films, including one of my favorites- “Changeling” (2008), in which she portrays with a brutal honesty the pains of a mother who has to deal with the monstrously corrupt authorities after her only child has been kidnapped.

Without a doubt, Jolie’s role as Lara Croft in “Lara Croft: Tomb Raider” (2001) put her on the map as a female action star. Since then she performed in several exciting films, including “Original Sin” (2001), in which she starred alongside Antonio Banderas, “Taking Lives” (2004), and “Alexander” (2004). Perhaps the most important action-comedy film she did was “Mr. & Mrs. Smith” (2005), where she also met and fell in love with actor Brad Pitt. The couple later married and had 6 children, 3 of whom are adopted. She also starred in “Salt” (2010), and alongside Johnny Depp in “The Tourist” (2010). Her latest big-screen success is “Maleficent” (2014), in which she finally combines her emotional depth with her talent for action and physicality.

The buds of Jolie’s humanitarian affiliations are also evident in her acting career- in a 2003 film called “Beyond Borders” she plays the part of Sarah Jordan, an American woman who travels to Ethiopia to work for humanitarian and human rights organizations. This, of course, mirrors Jolie’s own humanitarian work, specifically in UNHCR. In 2001 and onwards Jolie visited dozens of refugee camps around the world. Giving her time and resources, she quickly became an activist, with the goal of both assisting in whatever way she can and of increasing the awareness to the situation of refugees in the media. She also adopted three children from different orphanages in Cambodia, Ethiopia, and Vietnam. Jolie’s humanitarian activities also focus on women’s rights and on putting an end to sexual assaults. In 2014 she hosted together with William Hague a summit to end sexual violence in Minova, a town at the east of the Democratic Republic of Congo which has been shockingly called the “rape capital of the world”. Jolie’s involvement in this and other humanitarian efforts have worked in favor of averting the attention of both the media and political bodies (such as the UN) towards the sufferings of many. I think it’s safe to say that Angelina Jolie would be one of the most memorable figures of our time, even less for her celebrity status than for what she chose to do with it.

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